Giving Gardens Employing More Disabled Workers

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COLUMBIA - The staff, sales, and supplies of Giving Gardens continues to grow in its third summer of business. The retail green house exclusively employs people with disabilities. The business, owned by Central Missouri Subcontracting Enterprises, started as a way to provide work to people that wouldn't have the opporunity otherwise.

"CMSE has been around for over forty years," director Bruce Young said. "But three years ago we were starting to lose subcontracting jobs so we had to come up with something new to keep our employees working."

Young teamed up with Bill Regan, who had previously owned a greenhouse business. The two came up with the idea for Giving Gardens.

"In the past three summers, it's just grown more and more," said Regan. "And there's so much work to be done that we're able to keep our employees working all year round."

Part of the work includes growing all of the plants that are sold. 

"We grow so many plants," Regan said. "And we grow all of the tomatoes we sell as well."

Earnest Zornes is in charge of pollinating all of the tomato plants. 

"I really like working here," Zornes said. "I do different jobs all the time--today I'm pollinating the plants, yesterday I watered all the flowers, tomorrow who knows what I'll do."

While business is slow in the middle of July, Giving Gardens is gearing up for mum season, which will begin in about a month.

"Last year we grew 3,000 mums and we sold all but 50 of them," Young said. "This year we're expecting to do just as well if not better."